Aiming High & Exceeding Expectations: Sports at All-Girls’ Schools

This editorial piece was commissioned for Northside Magazine, a regional magazine distributed to 60,000 homes within the area. It was also later picked up to run in Families Vale of York, a print magazine with a readership of around 1 million nationwide.

It wasn’t only Great Britain receiving well-deserved recognition during the 2012 Olympic games: her female athletes also shone in the spotlight, dominating the courts, fields and water, as well as the podiums. More so than any previous Olympics, female athletes ruled the medal tables and the airwaves, demonstrating to the world their top-class athletic prowess.

With over 260 female athletes representing Team GB, it’s interesting to note the overwhelming proportion educated in all-girls’ schools. Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) reports in advance of the event revealed almost one-third of independent UK girls’ schools had students hoping to compete.

Though this number may seem high, GSA President Hillary French could have the reason why. ‘Girls’ schools don’t just present opportunities, they enable them. They create an environment where girls feel okay about putting themselves forward and taking risks; this is tremendously helpful in building confidence.’

Free from stereotypes, this environment allows every girl to discover her passions and to pursue them without the pressures of learning and living alongside boys. Alison Morris, Editor of MyDaughter, notes research revealing that co-educational schools give ‘boys a disproportionate amount of attention, to the detriment of girls.’

Girls thrive on opportunities to lead when living and learning alongside other girls. Whether serving as House Prefect of Netball team captain, girls are especially excited by the freedom to play as hard as they work. A wide variety of sports are a hallmark of girls’ schools and represent an irreplaceable aspect of the all-round educational philosophy.

Similarly irreplaceable are the support systems. Lesley Walton, chair of GSA’s Sports Committee, notes that ‘when you look at schools with girls competing at International level, the common denominators are support and encouragement; girls have the opportunity to develop in their individual sports and academic support is given, enabling them to achieve at the highest level. That’s what makes the difference.’

In addition to one-to-one encouragement and support, Queen Margaret’s further empowers girls to chase their dreams by introducing successful female athletes to act as role models. Most recently, professional squash player Jenny Duncalf chatted to QM Sport Scholars about her successes before offering a coaching session on reaching the top of your game.

Later this month, QM will host the 14th Annual Junior Sports Tournament, inviting hundreds of girls from around twenty preparatory schools to spend the day honing their hockey, netball and cross country skills. In addition to these opportunities, QM also offers Sport Scholarships for girls keen to continue their athletic growth.

Sport is an integral part of life at QM, and one of the keys to developing girls who are well-rounded and well-prepared to tackle an ever-changing world. Recent reports note that the more opportunities girls have to participate in different school activities, the more likely they are to find they can excel in many different areas.

This all-round approach is at the heart of a QM education, which focuses on helping girls aim high and then exceed their own expectations.

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